Naughty, naughty, Guido – let’s check that poll again, shall we

Paul Staines, who blogs as Guido Fawkes, seems very keen indeed to persuade his readers that the public’s right behind him on his pursuit of William Hague over the allegation of improper activities with his former special advisor.

Keen enough, it appears, to take a rather inventive approach when it comes to interpreting the opinion polls.

When you ask a question in a poll and the result comes back as 46% yes, 12% no, most of us would take that as an indication that the public’s in the “yes” camp.

Not Staines.  He’s taken all the “don’t knows” – many of whom may not even be aware of the Hague story – and simply added them onto the no camp.

That’s what Guido’s claiming:

46% of people asked think the Foreign Secretary was telling the truth about his relationship with Christopher Myers. That leaves over half the country doubting the Foreign Secretary’s words.

No, it obviously doesn’t.

Here’s the actual opinion poll (pdf, it’s on page 5) and here’s the UK polling report write-up that Guido links to.  See what you think.

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  • That’s what Guido’s claiming:

    46% of people asked think the Foreign Secretary was telling the truth about his relationship with Christopher Myers. That leaves over half the country doubting the Foreign Secretary’s words.

    No, it obviously doesn’t.

    Erm, yes it obviously does!

    If you do not think he was telling the truth, or you are not sure, then obviously you doubt his words. Rather elementary, I think.

  • I remember when Staines was cutting edge, the new breed of political blogger.

    Didn’t like him even then, but at least he was inventive. Now it’s just lazy playing up to his rabid fanbase of racists, homophobes andtin foil hat wearers (seriously, read some comment threads).


  • Jeremy Hargreaves 7th Sep '10 - 2:53pm

    Arguing that people who have no opinion on something, in fact actively do have a view – ie that they doubt Hague – is bizarre! People who have no opinion have, er, no opinion.

    By Guido’s logic, almost the entire country “doubts” whether he brushed his teeth or not this morning, simply because we have no idea whether he did or not, and have no opinion on the subject. We might “not know” about it, but to argue that we therefore actively “doubt its truth” – as he says most of the country does about Hague’s words – is completely weird.

  • I have to agree with Liberal Neil here. GuidoFawkes can protest as much as he likes but he is making far too great an assumption about the ‘don’t knows’. He does NOT know, how does that mean he can claim he does?

    Maybe he should apply for a job at The News Of The World? It sounds as though he could fit right in.

  • I suppose that if you perceive polling as a binary activity then you could argue that if 46% agree with something then 54% don’t agree with it. However, I think the really damaging result for Hague is that 43% felt that he had made an error of judgment, 42% that he had not, and 15% didn’t know. A binary analysis would therefore suggest that 57% believe that he had made an error of judgment. This is the most important aspect of the story. If you were a public figure and knew that for years elements of our wonderful press had been trying to prove that you were a homosexual would you really share a double room with a man to save money?
    And this man Hague is our Foreign Secretary?

  • Correction: that should read ‘ would therefore suggest that 58% believe that he had made an error of judgment’

  • Andrew Suffield 7th Sep '10 - 8:30pm

    Personally I couldn’t care less about the whole story… that makes me a “doubter”, right?

  • @Liberal Neil

    46% thought an improper relationship did not take place . So, 46% believe Hague. You do not need to be a psephologist to work out that 54% do not believe him, or have failed to be totally convinced. If Staines had said 54% think Hague lied, then Iain Roberts, and yourself, would have a valid point.

  • Re. Jayu’s Binary World: 8,609,527 people voted Labour at the 2010 General Election out of an estimated UK population of 61,113,205. Therefore 85.9% of the people in this country are anti Labour.

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